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Adjusting to an Australian Way of Life

April 18, 2017

My pretend Australian accent sounds far from Australian. When I try, it just ends up sounding like a weird mix of British and Irish, which would only sound close to an Australian accent if it were severely auto tuned. When I go to the southern part of the U.S. over the summer, constantly hearing the accent makes me quickly pick it up and by the time I come home there’s always a twang in the way I talk.

So I figured when I arrived in Australia I’d have the accent down by my second day because it’s what I thought I was going to be constantly around. But I was wrong. Even now one month in, which seems crazy, my ‘good day mate’ is still utterly butchered — because where I live is like a meeting point of all nations. Just in my apartment alone there’s me — a first generation American with Brazilian parents, a sweet girl from China, two boys from India and one from Australia. With such variety in cultures comes all different accents. I’m constantly being asked where I am from and ask the same question when I can’t distinguish someone else’s. As much as I’m learning about the Australian culture, I am also learning about others — it’s like I bought one but got 30 free. It’s waiting at the bus stop and meeting someone from Norway or chatting over folding laundry with someone from Kazakhstan, all of us with the common ground of being study abroad students learning to adapt to a new culture and school system.

Speaking of Australian culture, there were some surprising adjustments that I had to face — like learning how to get around with my terrible sense of direction makes my life an adventure every time I wander outside, or the scoop of vanilla ice cream that they put on top of the iced coffee I ordered at the library, different but obviously very tasty. Also, having to keep reminding myself to walk on my left to avoid head on collisions. When it comes to the actual university, I thought I had signed up for my classes wrong when I looked at my class schedule and saw that they only met once a week for one hour each, with the exception of two classes that meet twice. Last semester I had class every day from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. with just a couple small breaks so I thought with this schedule I was going to have so much free time. But again I was wrong. Although the physical time in the classroom is small, the online portion is heavy. Even so I am constantly on campus, usually to hunt down which student organization is having free food, but for the most part to take advantage of all the school has to offer. From workshops to seminars, I even enrolled myself in a Global Leadership Program that I am very excited about.

I considered my first month abroad a bit of a vacation because it still didn’t feel like real life. So I spent my time exploring the city and learning how to get around. I took time in getting situated in my apartment and university. Now that I am more than comfortable with where I am and so in love with this journey thus far, I cannot wait to see what this next month brings as I get deeper in the full emergence of the Australian way of life.

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